Republican legislators want to line their pockets with increased per diem payments

Why does it not surprise me that greedy Republicans are looking to line their pockets while asking public employees to make financial sacrifices because of “budget difficulties?”

As they head into the new legislative session, Assembly Republican leaders are considering raising how much the 99 members of their chamber can claim for expenses.

Incoming Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) said top Republicans have discussed raising the rate for daily expenses, known as per diem, but they have not made any final decisions. He noted payment rates have not been increased in more than a decade.

“I’m open to it. As we look at where we are, it’s something to consider,” Vos said.

Most lawmakers receive $88 a day to cover hotels and meals when they come to the Capitol. Those who live in or close to Madison receive half that amount. The payments in many cases are tax-free and come on top of their $49,943-a-year salary.

Democratic State Rep. Jon Richards summed up the hypocrisy of Republicans wanting an increase of their per diems, saying, “I think at a time when we’re trying to make ends meet with our own state employees . . . it hardly seems the right time to be raising per diem rates.”

And from the files of “unmitigated gall” comes Republican State. Rep. Scott Suder’s assertion that raising per diem rates for lawmakers is “logical” because hotel prices have risen in recent years. Apparently lost on Rep. Suder is the fact that the price of just about everything has risen over the past few years, leaving public employees (many of whom haven’t seen a pay raise in years) have seen their take-home pay drop thanks to efforts by Rep. Suder and his fellow Republicans. If Scott Suder expects public employees to see their take-home pay decrease because of increases in their contributions to their pensions and health insurance benefts, then he should expect to see his per diems frozen as well.


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14 thoughts on “Republican legislators want to line their pockets with increased per diem payments

  1. Did the blue fisters that fled to Illinois claim per deim for their childish acts? When was the last time it was adjusted? Can you post a link to your claim that they are lining their pockets compared to expenses?

    Expenses are always tax deductible, private and public employee alike.

    Paying into your retirement pension is not the same as paying for a hotel stay, the comparrison is laughable.

    Can you provide a link that shows public employees like teachers not being reimbursed for hotel stays paid out of pocket?

  2. are lining their pockets compared to expenses

    Scott Fitzgerald, who lives 50 miles from Madison, claimed 18 grand in per diems in 2011. He must be shacking up at a fine-ass hotel.

  3. Actually, state employees are on tight limits if they go out of town for business (like $34 for 3 meals, and $70 limit on hotel rooms), and they are certainly not tax-deductible- merely reimbursed.

    And state employees are encouraged to return to their homes if they’re close by on business in order to save money, unlike the Scott Fitzgeralds of the world, who live an hour from the Capitol but take the most per diems of anyone in the state.

    Ripping on working people over oligarchs is soooo 2011.

    1. And oh yeah, we certainly do not get our meals and commuting cost reimbursed when we go to our jobs, unlike the legislators.

      1. You do if you are away on business. If you are sent to Minneapolis for the night, or multiple nights the company you work for should reimburse you for the hotel stay, if you do not put it on a company card. They also owe you a per deim for food. It usually is around $35-$40 per day for a full day away. $25 for a half day to cover breakfast.

        1. If I’m sent out of town, sure. When I go to my office to do my regular job (you know, like how a legislator does at the Capitol), I don’t get anything extra. Just like pretty much any other job.

          The per-diem money grab by WisGOP is a classic “The rules we lay out don’t apply to us” move that defines the 21st Century Republican Party.

          1. But it is not their full time local job. They are not in session year round and all not residents of Madison.

  4. Looting the public coffers is what the Cons do best, when they aren’t servicing billionaires in various ways.

    1. Gareth- How is this looting? Do the democrats in the senate/assembly not do the same thing? Are you proposing that they pay out of pocket for meals and hotel expenses while away on state business?

  5. From some of the comments here it seems there is some confusion about what the per diem is. Basically it’s an amount a legislator can claim for being away from her/his home district while conducting state business in Madison.

    Although the current per diem rates are 10 years old it doesn’t seem appropriate to consider an increase when other state employees have taken net pay cuts while exclaiming we are broke. Maybe they can all crash in Rep. Vos’ second office?

    1. Paying into benefits vs losing on expenses is not equal. You receive the portion paid into your pension when you retire and you receive health care.

      Maybe we should stop increasing social security for cost of living increases, same with food stamps.

      1. No they aren’t equal…one is mucking with a state employee’s net income and the other is mucking with your own…to your own advantage. Whether it is right or wrong to increase the per diem…the perception that they are enriching themselves at taxpayer expense is a pretty negative signal right now. If they want to save face they could get a third party company involved to weigh in on expenses in Madison and pass changes that don’t take effect until after the next election cycle, similar to legislative pay increases.

  6. This is nothing new for the R’s. Recall former assembly speaker John Gard. He was elected from the Peshtigo area yet lived full time in Sun Prairie where his kids went to school. Claimed the full $88 per diem. For years he claimed the most of any legislator, yet lived 10 miles from the Capitol.

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